This past Friday, my friends and I went to the Eagle Rock Brewing Co, a new Brewery that recently opened not far from our place, to taste some of their brews and visit a Vietnamese noodle truck that happened to be parked out front.
The beer was excellent, especially their seasonal Libertine Imperial Amber Wit. The most memorable part of the night though, was the tour that Jeremy Raub, owner and Brew master of the place gave us. You could tell this guy was passionate about brewing, and knew what he was doing. Listening to him talk about the process and challenges of brewing inspired me to finally try my hand at home brewing, something I have been wanting to do for some time.
On Sunday, My roommates and I got up bright and early, and headed out at around noon to the Culver City Home Brew supply store. This place is a great resource for new home brewers. The owner was really helpful in getting us going with the right equipment, and all the ingredients to brew our first batch. I highly recommend stopping here first if you are thinking of picking up home brewing. They even offer free classes a couple times a month where they walk you through the brew process step by step (I signed up for the next available class which isn’t till mid march).
We decided to start the brewing on Monday after work since the process takes around 3 hours. When I got home we realized we needed to get some drinking water and a 5 gallon pot that we weren’t able to get on Sunday and so we made a run to Sam’s club to pick up the supplies and didn’t get started until about 9pm.
The first thing we had to do was heat up a 2 quart pot to just below boiling to stoop the grains. Once we started this, we also started the 3 gallons of water we needed to bring to a boil. Once the smaller pot was at the appropriate temperature, we added the grains and stooped for 30 minutes. Our house doesn’t have the most modern stove, so we were a little worried we wouldn’t be able to get the larger pot boiling by the time the stooping
was complete, but luckily it began to boil just in time.
After stooping, we poured the stooped grains through a strainer into the boiling water to create what is called mash. We then boiled the mash for an hour, adding our two types of hops at the beginning and 45 minutes in respectively. More acidic hops are boiled for longer, and hops added toward the end of the boiling process are more noticeable in the beer’s flavor and aroma.
While the boiling is taking place, we use a special sterilizing liquid to ensure our fermenting bucket and anything that will come in contact with the beer from here on out is sterile.
Once the boiling is complete, we have to cool the mash down before we can add it to the fermenting bucket and pitch the yeast. We cooled it by filling the sink up with cold water, and placing the pot inside the sink, running the water in the sink to keep the temperature low. We also had to make sure none of the tap water got into the pot, as any wild yeast could ruin the beer.
Once cooled, we poured the mash through a (sterile) strainer into the fermenting bucket. We then added (pitched) our yeast to the mash. The yeast will convert the sugars in the brew to alcohol, and release CO2. We measured a sample of our brew to see home much sugar content it had, and hence the potential for alcohol. Our measurement determined our beer could be up to 6% by volume, although it is unlikely it will be that high.
We then sealed our bucket about 12:30am, the whole process taking about 3.5 hours. I was pretty tired after all that, but we had a lot of cleaning up to do.
Now we wait, about a week, while the beer ferments before we can move onto the next step. Stay tuned….
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that we did use extract in addition to our grains which we added to the mash pot right before we added the grain stoop. You can find the entire recipe here.